Trip Report for first-time Las Vegas visitors
I just got back today from my first trip to Las Vegas. I searched the Chowhound Las Vegas posts before going to get some ideas and want to thank the folks who wrote them. This review will probably not interest super-foodies who now seem to be trying to go to e (sorry, I can't put the accent on it). However, if you want to eat some good food at reasonable prices you may be interested in reading on.
1. Dinner at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris. Good bread and an amuse bouche of diced tomatoes with anchovies. My friend ordered the salmon on the peas and I had one of the specials, duck with a potato gratin. We split an order of spinich (good). We both ate everything but I couldn't finish my gratin even though delicious. We weren't going to have dessert but the waiter then told us there was a bread pudding not on the menu and since I adore bread pudding we split it. Yum. For the price ($80 which included tax, tip, and two glasses of wine) we thought it was very good. My only complaint was the wine. We were going to order the house pinot noir but the bartender said it was Louis Latour and recommended another which was just ok. We then walked around the resort which we found depressing, but the restaurant was pretty, although extremely crowded by the time we left.
2. Visit to Aria, Crystal (shopping center) and Jean Phillipe. We walked from Flamingo to Aria via the Bellagio. Nice walk if you like to walk. Loved the Crystal building just before the Aria, tons of light, modern, interesting angles. Also loved the lobby of Aria. After all the (often cheesy) glitz it was understated and beautiful. Went to the Jean Phillipe cafe which had salads and pastries and such already made. I was in a bit of a snit because all food was pre-made but my Asian salad (cabbage carrots, onion, shrimp, with separate satay sauce) was fresh and delicious and my friend was equally happy with her cobb salad. I also had the key lime tart. Delicious!!!--the French do a great job of keeping the pastry bottom crispy and the filling full of flavor instead of sugar.
3. We had dinner at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Now my friend was in a snit because she wanted a table and they sat us at the counter which is where all small parties sit. We shared a half-bottle of champagne (Tattinger $50, not great but ok) and then had the $95 four-course meal with the wine pairing. The first course was a tomato-balsamic gazpacho which was so fresh and wonderful I wish I had more. Note: The first course is often the one I love the most. At the French Laundry (Napa) my first course was a cauliflower panna cotta with a giant "blackberry" made of cavier and I believe it was the most delicious thing I've ever eaten, except maybe some cabecou cheese in St. Remy. Everything else was delicious too, including the bread (the super-light rolls were fabulous), the foie gras stuffed Cornish hen, the cheese, the seven beautiful and perfect almond-shaped scoops of gelato and sorbet. The bill for two for all was $400 before tip. Another great feature of this restaurant was the simplicity, drama, and beauty of the restaurant and place settings and the warmth and knowledge of the staff. I'd go back in a heartbeat. Another really fun thing was the gentleman next to us, who wrote for an internet site and a newpaper and was so kind, enthusiastic and helpful.
4. We went for a hike in the Red Rock Canyon National Park and hiked for four hours, and then drove to the Stratosphere. We went to the top to eat without knowing anything about the restaurant. We and just about all the other customers (except the newly married) were under-dressed, but the staff seemed very happy to see us. Fabulous view (the tables make a full revolution every 1 hour and 20 minutes). We loved our lunch. My friend had lobster bisque and a really good Caesar salad. I had black miso roasted cod (cooked perfectly, not dried out) on spinich and baby carrots and a small salad plus a bottle of Pinot Noir (Talbott, $42). Total bill $91 before tip. Great experience and don't be discouraged by the really long, confusing, and depressing drive up to and through the parking structure. Also I want to give as great big thank you to the staff because after we left I thought I had left my rings on the table and I called and they searched the whole area and called me back. We finally found them in the car so I let them know but still feel so bad that I put them through all that work for nothing.
5. Friday night dinner (our last night) was at Charlie Palmer's at the Four Seasons. I had discovered this on the Chow Hound blogs, where the Cut of the Week ($48 per person including wine) was highly recommended. Thank you Chow Hound writers! The bread included cornbread which I love and never get, the bibb lettuce salad with jalepeno bacon and blue cheese was to die for, and the wine with it was a Pinot Blanc from Alsace that was really, really, really good. Then a fabulous 14 oz bone-in strip steak (I ate it all and I'm a 120 lb woman) with a really, really, really good red wine which turned out to be Fattoria Rodano Poggialupi Toscana 2007 (I know that because I asked them if I could buy and bottle and since they can't sell it they gave me one.) I couldn't believe it! But I'm so grateful, because I'm going to a sangiovese wine-tasting tomorrow and the sommelier told me this wine is a sangiovese (same as Chianti I think). My friends are going to be very impressed.
I was not expecting to like Las Vegas but it turns out I did have a great time and would love to go back to eat some more. Thank you again Chow Hound writers.
I always encourage people who are "not expecting to like Las Vegas" to give it a try. Whether for its spectacular location, or the totally up-scale or quite down-scale, people-watching or total isolation a few dozen miles out in the desert, it has always satisfied me on almost every level. I am glad you had a good time. Mon Ami Gabi I have shied away from but it does sound close to a real (in the shadow of faux Eiffel ironwork!) brasserie. It's not that solo diner friendly always being quite busy is the only problem. Thanks for the report.
Mon Ami Gabi
3655 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Thank you for reading my report and commenting. At Mon Ami Gabi we sat at a small table in a corner which would be good for solo diners. I had made 6:15 reservations and when we were seated the room was almost empty (not the first dark room after the bar but the next inside room which was quite light and pretty). If we had wanted a table outside it would have taken another 20 minutes but we passed on that. By the time we left the entire place was packed, and people were even eating at the bar (another possibility for a solo diner). My brother was there a short time ago and he found it was almost always possible to get an inside table. And I agree, Las Vegas is a pretty spectacular place on many levels.
Mon Ami Gabi
3655 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109